Snack Review: Utz Carolina Style Bar-B-Q Potato Chips
Every week I peruse the snack aisle of my local grocery store looking for something new and potentially interesting to satisfy my taste buds. It seems like every week I end up settling for something, well, unique. Baked soy crisps. Sweet and Salty granola bars. Multigrain rice crisps. Not exactly your tried and true, blue collar American snack choices…
Fortunately, this trend of snacking ended the other day, as I picked up a $1 bag of Utz Carolina Style Bar-B-Q Potato Chips. Maybe my cheapness got the best of me, or maybe it’s this whole “load up on polyunsaturated fats” health craze going around right now. Frankly, the worn-out looking bag of chips just screamed “buy me.” So I did. While I don’t eat fried potato chips on a regular basis, I do consider myself something of a BBQ connoisseur, with the vinegar-based Eastern Carolina style among my favorite choices. The fact that I know of no other brand on the market that carries this particular style of BBQ flavor is an instant positive in my mind. Surely a definite reason to compare these to the more traditional, BBQ style, flavored chips that every company and their mother makes. These chips do fairly well to match the flavor of Eastern North Carolina style BBQ, which as I mentioned tends to revolve around thin vinegar sauces that contain strong hints of pepper. Vinegar is definitely the overwhelming flavor I get on first taste, but the red pepper flavor gives the chip a good kick which breaks the otherwise initial blandness. Like all Utz chips they have a great crunch, and after the initial vinegar burst wears off you get a subtle, Worcestershire-type sweetness followed by real strong potato flavor. Overall it’s a great transition of flavors that ends with Utz’s signature potato chip taste, and leaves you wanting more.
I liked the fact that these chips are heterogenous in size and degree of ‘doneness’. Some are crispier than others and some thicker and better seasoned, but I think that kind of composition works well. I also liked that while oily, these chips were not too greasy, meaning that I did not have to feel guilty about constantly licking my fingers. One of my only complaints about the chip is that it failed to produce the “mustard” flavor the bag laid claim to, and did not have the smoke flavor that I was expecting based on the ingredient list. While it’s not exactly a complaint, I also question the relevancy of the flavor choice altogether, as this style of seasoning was developed in the first place to work with chopped pork, not potatoes.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Utz. The company’s regular line of chips may not be as sexy as whatever Pringles or Lays has cooking, but they’ve been solid standbys for years and it just takes an open mind for even a froo-froo snacker like myself to discover them. While I did not enjoy the Carolina Bar-B-Q chips as much as the company’s regular potato chip flavor, the idea of a regional style of BBQ chips is enough to warrant an occasional buy, which at a dollar per 4oz. bag isn’t gonna cost me the farm.
- Pros- Ridiculously cheap. Not overly greasy. Strong vinegar taste does a decent job of replicating Eastern North Carolina style, while hints of pepper flakes give chips a “kick.” Typically awesome taste of cottonseed oil fried potato rounds it all out.
- Cons- No smoke flavor whatsoever. Saltier than regular Utz potato chips. Not getting much “mustard” flavor. 9 grams of fat per serving. Spelling barbeque as “Bar-B-Q.” Bag looks like it’s from the early 1960s.
GrubGrade: 7.75/10 (Good)
Price: $1.59 3.75oz bag ($1.00 on sale at Giant Food)
Nutrition- Utz Carolina Bar-B-Que Chips
Serving Size: 1 oz (about 20 chips)
Calories from Fat: 80
Total Fat: 9 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 2 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 270 milligrams
Total Carbs: 14 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugar: 1 gram
Protein: 2 grams